Destroyer – LABYRINTHITIS (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 43:52 minutes | 482 MB | Genre: Indie Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Bella Union
Destroyer’s latest album, Labyrinthitis, brims with mystic and intoxicating terrain, the threads of Dan Bejar’s notes woven through by a trove of allusions at once eerily familiar and intimately perplexing. The record circuitously draws ever inward, each turn offering giddy surprise, anxious esoterica, and thumping emotionality at equal odds.
Labyrinthitis is a medical condition (inflammation in the inner ear which results in hearing loss, a sense of dizziness and vertigo) that seems to result in an unsettling state of being. In the opening moments of Destroyer’s latest album of the same name, a crackling drum loop and orchestra tune-up are swept into an eerily similar abstraction of space and sound that cocoons the listener from all sides. This panoramic dizzying state is constant throughout LABYRINTHITIS, but inside that envelope are dotted pockets of cynical lyrical subversion, insoluble anxious questioning, and restful acceptance. It’s a sonic bath so thick and luscious with the hypnotic, woozy wistfulness of frontman and maestro Dan Bejar’s voice guiding us through the fog. LABYRINTHITIS’ lyrical and sonic statements appear as non-sequitur. Still, when lifted out of line-by-line analysis, their meanings extend an invitation to get lost in their arcane maze. Because no matter where you end up, Bejar and his band have got your back.
Mainly written in 2020 and pieced together through early 2021 with frequent-collaborator and fellow-New Pornographer John Collins, LABYRINTHITIS is a continuation of Destroyer’s cerebral, life-is-messy-so-embrace-it revelation. Bejar has said that his lyricism has a “hermetic” and “unconscious” stream of consciousness, which is highlighted in “June.” Muted bass bounces and synthesizer glimmers open to Bejar proclaiming “Fancy language dies, and everyone’s happy to see it go” into decisive reflections that wage workers are “Happy to strike for more pay.” While seemingly unrelated, Bejar’s wandering slurs weave the different ideas together (Consider a title like “Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread”). Shrouded in a misty sheen, the instrumental soundscapes of LABYRINTHITIS are another striking high point. Crashing keyboards, driving drum patterns, muted horn honks, and pulsating synthesizers speckle the vistas of each track. “Tintoretto, It’s for You” (yes, like the Italian painter) and “The States” are serpentine with no predictable structure, but imbue a sense of meditation amidst swirling destruction their very lyrics are describing. Destroyer’s hazy, scalable labyrinth is anchored by the distinctive paradox of feeling lost and self-assured, all in the same swing. A fitting illustration for the world at the time this record arrives. – William Card
1-01. Destroyer – It’s in Your Heart Now (06:55)
1-02. Destroyer – Suffer (03:29)
1-03. Destroyer – June (06:33)
1-04. Destroyer – All My Pretty Dresses (04:40)
1-05. Destroyer – Tintoretto, It’s for You (03:05)
1-06. Destroyer – Labyrinthitis (03:19)
1-07. Destroyer – Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread (03:37)
1-08. Destroyer – It Takes a Thief (02:41)
1-09. Destroyer – The States (06:55)
1-10. Destroyer – The Last Song (02:34)